For more than 20 years, Vashon Community Care has partnered with Providence Health & Services to provide an array of management services for the island care facility, but that relationship is coming to an end when the current contract expires this August.
Providence informed the VCC board of its decision earlier this month, and a press release from both agencies last week indicates they will be working together to create a smooth transition.
“Both Providence and the VCC Board will work closely together to identify new management resources and ensure a smooth and seamless transition. Resident care and services will continue to be the top priority,” the statement indicated.
The close relationship between VCC and Providence Mount St. Vincent and Providence Senior and Community Services began in 1995. At that time, islanders had banded together to save the nursing home, which was privately owned and set to close.
Some of those involved reached out to Providence and requested the organization’s assistance, which it has provided in a variety of ways since that time. VCC documents show the contracted services include those related to accounting, human resources and information systems. Providence also provides several administrative services, including employing the care center administrator — currently Holly Shepherd.
Last week, Chief Executive of Providence Senior & Community Services Robert Hellrigel addressed the upcoming change in the relationship between the two agencies. He indicated Providence officials made the decision, at least in part, because of what they believe to be the wishes of the VCC board. He noted that boards go through different evolutions and cultures and that he believes the current VCC board is not looking for the kind of partnership Providence provides.
“The VCC board today is looking for more of a management contract,” he said.
Additionally, he noted that Providence typically does not provide management services for facilities that it does not own and that VCC is an exception. He confirmed that Providence has often provided assistance between the scope of the contract, including financial assistance at times when it was needed.
“Providence has provided outstanding financial support,” he added. “I do not think any other organization would have provided the support Providence has.”
Hellrigel also spoke highly of the Vashon community and its financial contributions to the care center. He noted that the lack of the Providence connection going forward might change “the conversation” about donating to VCC.
“VCC has received amazing support (from islanders).” We would hope to see that continue, or even more so,” he added.
For her part, VCC board president Susan Hanson said the board did not seek the end to the relationship with Providence, although it had sought to clarify the financial picture with the health group so that board members understand what VCC was and was not paying for.
“They will be missed,” she said of Providence. “We have had a good working relationship with them.”
The VCC board has created a committee to determine if the care center’s staff is capable of doing all the work on its own of if it will be necessary to replace Providence.
“If we do, we will find that organization,” she said. “It will be a thoughtful, careful, methodical process, and we have the time to do it.”
She noted that contractually, Providence needed to give VCC 90 days’ notice, but gave substantially more than that.
“It is not a cranky separation,” she added.
Hanson also addressed any potential concerns about patient care during this transition period and beyond.
“We are going to do what needs to be done for the good of our residents. Their level of care is not going to change in the process. We are going to maintain excellence,” she said.
At VCC, Administrator Shepherd shared similar thoughts. She said she was unable to respond to Providence’s decision or provide more insight into it, but she spoke to the day-to-day work at the care center.
“I know that we are committed and that I am committed, as the administrator and as an agent of Providence, to making this as smooth a transition as possible to ensure there is minimal impact on families,” she said. “Nothing really changes for us here at VCC.”